December 15, 1937
Grafton Lady Enjoys Life at Ninety-Seven
Mrs.Ruth Lawrence Will Celebrate Birthday Tomorrow When She Will be Honored by Friends Of Community.
Mrs. Ruth A. Lawrence, grand old lady of Grafton, celebrates her ninety-seventh birthday tomorrow, December 16 when she will be the guest of honor at an At Home at her residence where her many friends will felicitate her upon reaching such a ripe old age. Gifted with a remarkable memory, keen of mind and with sight and hearing unimpaired she lives alone in her spacious residence at Grafton Corner and is able to perform her own household duties. She is greatly interested in community affairs and attends all the church meetings and functions. She was baptized into the membership of the Halls Harbor Baptist Church when she was fourteen years of age and remembers clearly that the ice had to be cut in the harbor to permit of the ordinance. She is a life member of the Missionary Aid Society, being active in its work ever since its inception.
She is the daughter of the late George Nelson Rockwell and Charlotte (Bentley) Rockwell of Billtown. She had five brothers (William, Wells, Borden, Havelock and Harry), and two sisters (Mrs. John Cox, Canning and Mrs. Charles Hapgood, Boston), all of whom are deceased, Harry passing away only two years ago.
Her early school days were spent at Halls Harbor where she boarded near the school which was being taught by Joseph Murray a divinity student who later became pastor of the Cambridge Baptist Church. Later she attended a seminary at Hantsport of which Mr. Charles Randall was principal and Professor Caleb B ill was an instructor. It was here that Mrs. Lawrence received her musical training, both vocal and instrumental and she pays high tribute to the musical ability of Prof. Bill, whose pupils have gone far in the musical world.
Married at Eighteen
At the age of eighteen years she married Professor Charles E. Lawrence, a prominent music teacher. The ceremony was performed on April 15, 1858 by Rev. A. S. Hunt, Baptist minister at Canard. Mrs. Kempton Congdon, Grafton, is the only living child of the union, one son and a daughter being deceased. She has three granddaughters, one grandson and three great-grandchildren.
Following their marriage they moved to Lakeville where they remained for eighteen years, after which they removed to Woodville and later to Grafton, where Mrs. Lawrence has resided for the past forty-two years. Recalling those early days she remembers the old-fashioned home-woven wool blankets and sheets, the fine linen tablecloths and napkins, etc. Almost every home had its loom and spinning wheel at that time. Very interestingly she described the manufacture of linen from flax. She recalled that the late Mr. Everett Bishop had a carding mill where they took their wool. Mr. William Chase conducted a tannery and Mr. Johnathan Benjamin ran a grist mill.
Home one of the First to Have an Organ
Their home was the first to have an organ in that section of the county. Two Smith organs were brought from the United States by vessel, one for them and the other for Mr. Isaac Jackson, a piano-maker, at Coldbrook. Up to this time Prof. Lawrence, the church precenter, had been starting the tunes with the aid of a tuning fork, but when they got the organ, Mrs. Lawrence states, they took it to the church for the Sunday service and returned it to the home for the remainder of the week. For many years Mrs. Lawrence was church organist and music teacher and when forced to give up her duties as organist by ill health her pupils took up the work.
Reminiscing to The Register representative Mrs. Lawrence told of many matters pertaining to conditions and customs of about eighty years ago. Winters have evidently grown milder with the years for Mrs. Lawrence says that in her childhood they had winters that were winters. Cold weather was much steadier. Fresh meat was hung up at the first frost and used as required. There was a good deal of snow too, the roads often being filled to the tops of fences. Very rarely did they have an open winter. The men were employed in the woods in the winter, getting out firewood and logs. The timbers were hand hewed and there was an abundance of large timber in those days.
There were no stoves but all cooking was done at open hearths. There were three such in her old home and she well remembers the big pots hanging on the cranes and the longhandled skillets, and meat roasted
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GRAFTON LADY ENJOYS LIFE AT NINETY-SEVEN
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on spits. Bread was baked in a large brick oven.
Recalls Excitement on Fenian Raid
An event which stands out very clearly in her memory is the excitement caused at the time of the Fenian Raids. Men from the country around gathered together for drill, many being fed at her home.
The men journeyed to Halifax twice a year. The first journey was usually made just before Easter. Three men would drive eight or ten head of fat cattle. They would take a two horse team, the wagon being as big as a hay rack and the men would take turns in driving and riding. The first stop was made at Windsor where they were entertained at Dorans Inn. About a thousand pounds weight of dried apples were taken along, too. Groceries and clothing were brought back in return. Just before Christmas the second journey would be made after the Fall killing had been done. Pork, beef and poultry were taken to market. Mrs. Lawrence remembers one year they had forty geese which she helped to pluck.
Helped to Make Tallow Dips
One of the interesting industries in the home was the making of tallow dips or candles. Mrs. Lawrence described the fun they had s they gathered around the pot of fat and dipped the twisted wick into the tallow and allowed it to cool and then dipped again and again until thick enough. Later her father bought a candle mold on one of his trips to Halifax.
Christmas was the happiest season of the year when as large a family s possible was gathered in the old home. Abundant provision was made for the occasion, preparations covering several weeks. Christmas gifts were usually useful articles, knitted wear predominating.
Mrs. Lawrence has watched with interest the many marks of progress during her long life. The transition from the tallow dip to electric lights and the horse and buggy to the modern automobile. She considers that the telephone and telegraph, the radio and all other inventions have made life much easier but with them all people are no happier than they were eighty years ago.